By Annie Moore–
While it seems like only yesterday since campus vacated after finals week and students headed home, much has happened in the past four months. The Golden State Warriors became NBA Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks brought Lord Stanley’s Cup home and Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season.
In other parts of the sports world, Jordan Spieth won the Masters and the US Open, becoming number one in the world and Serena Williams won her sixth Wimbledon.
Here are just a few of the other highlights that happened in a sports-filled summer.
Pharoah’s Triple Crown
Perhaps the most locally significant event in the sports world happened over a series of Saturdays early this summer. American Pharoah, whose name is misspelled purposefully, won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
Trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, and ridden by Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah became a household name and ignited new passion towards the world of thoroughbred racing. In the Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah claimed his Triple Crown in wire-to-wire fashion, leading the whole race in the second-fastest time for a Triple Crown winner.
Locally, parties were thrown for the winner, who made an appearance at Churchill Downs after claiming his Triple Crown. American Pharoah was bred in Lexington and raised in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Last year’s Derby and Preakness winner, California Chrome sparked a lot of conversation about this generation of superior thoroughbreds coming from the west coast, but American Pharoah proved that thoroughbred racing is still alive and thriving in the Bluegrass State.
JURICH ADDS OPPONENTS
Louisville football’s out of conference schedule heated up this summer, with the team announcing a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide and a series against the Indiana Hoosiers.
The game against Alabama will be played as the season opener for the 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Louisville has not faced the Crimson Tide in football since the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.
In that game, Howard Schnellenberger led the Cardinals to a 34-7 victory.
The series against Indiana doesn’t begin until 2023, but will feature a game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, then a game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2024, then the Cardinals will travel to Bloomington in 2025.
The Indiana series announcement also came with news that the basketball teams would also have a three-game series.
That series starts December 31, 2016 at Lucas Oil Stadium, followed by a game at the KFC Yum! Center in 2017. The final game of that series will be played up at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Indiana leads the series 10-7. Louisville holds the last victory in the series, a 94-74 win in December of 2014.
Before that game, the series had been on an 11-year hiatus. Athletic Director Tom Jurich said this series is something he’s wanted to do since he arrived at U of L in 1997.
Lloyd lifts U.S.W.N.T.
The United States once again became world champions this summer. This time, it was in women’s soccer. The Women’s National Team won its third World Cup, making it the only national team with three Women’s World Cup titles.
The US defeated Japan on July 5 in Vancouver. Carli Lloyd scored the fastest hat trick in World Cup history for the United States, with three goals in just 15 minutes. Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath added goals for the United States.
The US Women had 15 shots to Japan’s 12, and goalie Hope Solo had three saves. Many viewed the World Cup victory as a turning point for soccer in America.
The Women’s National Team came home to parties and celebrations, even receiving a legendary ticker tape parade in downtown New York City, the first to celebrate women since 1984.
The World Cup Final match against Japan received higher ratings in the U.S. than the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup.
Rose’s Return to MLB
Louisville’s northeastern neighbor Cincinnati played host to the Major League Baseball All-Star game this summer. Stars from around the baseball world descended on the Queen City to compete for home field advantage in the World Series.
The American League won its third-straight All Star Game thanks to big stars like Mike Trout and David Price.
A special event at this year’s All Star Game was the “Franchise Four.” Each team selected the four players that represent their franchises, and MLB selected its own Franchise Four.
The MLB Four was a Mount Rushmore of baseball legends, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax.
The Red’s Franchise Four drew huge applause from the hometown crowd: Bench, Barry Larkin, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose. Rose, who was banned from baseball after it was discovered he bet on games, drew the biggest applause of the night.
Many in and outside of Cincinnati are hopeful that new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will lift Rose’s ban. This was not Rose’s first appearance at an MLB event since his ban. He was also brought out as part of MLB’s All-Century team in 1999.
Rose’s appearance at that event caused many to look at the MLB as hypocritical, Rose’s ban only being effective when it isn’t profitable for baseball. This latest appearance only did more to fuel those supporters.